The Archives

The Commons #8: On Saint Patrick, featuring Dr. Jonathan Rogers

The Commons podcast, hosted by Dr. Brian Phillips of the Circe Institute, contemplates the lives and times of people worth imitating. In this episode, Brian chats with Jonathan Rogers, author of Saint Patrick (among other biographies), about the remarkable faith - and fascinating legends - of St. Patrick. Click here to listen.

RR Interview: Jillian Edwards

Eddy Efaw and I have had the great privilege of welcoming many visual, musical, and literary artists to the campus of the Harding Academy of Memphis where we work for the Institute for Faith & Arts. Eddy began the program a few years back and Andrew Peterson was our inaugural guest. Since then we have continued to welcome incredible craftsmen and women to share their craft and faith. I recently had the chance to interview the ethereal-voiced Jillian Edwards, who was our IFA presenter this January. Rusty Woods: When did you decide you wanted to make music? Growing up, did you think about being a musician? Jillian Edwards: I don’t remember a time I didn’t want to be a singer. I’ve always wanted to make something that is hopefully beautiful. Both my siblings and my parents all grew up singing together a lot. Growing up, from an early age, I felt a calling on my life to sing but I also had very real stage fright. My twin brother, Cole, has always been able to talk to a stranger and is comfortable out in front, but I was always more reserved. In fact, when I was younger, he would play up front at church and I would sing backup—which was something I was comfortable with. One day at a church event he turned things on me and put me on the spot. He was playing lead at the event and, pre-planned, turned with no warning so I wouldn’t have time to think of a way to back out and said, “And now my sister is going to play one of her songs!” I vividly remember shaking, but looking back that was the breakthrough moment.

Less Injustice and More Vulnerability

Every book. Every movie. Songs. Sermons. Those old episodes of Once Upon A Time. Pretty much anything my eyes see and my ears hear seems different these days. It all speaks to my heart and challenges my soul in a way that's unfamiliar. I've been going through a rough patch. No doubt it started sometime in my past, when I missed a life lesson on vulnerability. Over the years I've learned to tuck away emotions like hurt and sadness behind calculated reactions to injustice and disappointment. “What you did is not right” and “You are acting inappropriately” have been surrogates for “I feel belittled by you” and “I feel embarrassed by you.” I have conditioned myself to wag my head, but rarely do I cry. This way that I've trained my soul has not served me well of late. It would be uncharitable to publicly say why. Let it suffice to say that there is a flesh and blood reason. Who it is is not the point. Nor does it matter so much that the person is wrong. Nor that the person is being unkind. Perhaps the only way God can get through the wall to my heart is a Babylonian captivity. Should I blame Nebuchadnezzar for being a nasty king? In many ways, jerks are less pitiable than the people who need jerks to jolt them out of dysfunction. I feel like I am in an uglier spot than my antagonist.

@ The Local Show: Josh Wilson

Don't miss tomorrow night's Local Show. Along with favorites Andy Osenga, Ben Shive, and Jon Troast, we're pleased to announce that Josh Wilson will make his Local Show debut. It's going to be a great show. Not familiar with Josh's music? Let's fix that. Here's a video to get you started.

Pre-order: Sing the Bible Vol. 2

Randall Goodgame's latest Slugs & Bugs record, Sing the Bible Vol. 2, will be loosed on the world on March 18th. Pre-orders are now available and will begin shipping this Friday. Here's how Randall describes the new record: Almost every day, I pray my kids will grow more aware of God’s love for them. Just like you and me, when kids know they are loved, they behave differently. They transform. SBStB2Cover_FinalI’ve been calling Sing the Bible 2 a “musical handbook for the Christian home” because the verses give practical instruction for those transforming people. Of course, without God’s love and transforming power, we are left with a bunch of rules we can never fully obey. That’s why this CD also highlights scriptures which bring to mind God’s presence and power, his limitless love, and his ultimate sacrifice.

March 31: An Evening Conversation with Makoto Fujimura

At the end of this month, artist Makoto Fujimura will be in Nashville to speak about “the importance of creating and conserving beauty as an antidote to much of our cultural brokenness.” Besides being a brilliant painter, Mako is an important advocate for the arts, especially as they relate to questions of faith.

This event will be hosted by The Trinity Forum, a DC-based organization that works to cultivate networks of leaders whose integrity and vision will renew culture and promote human freedom and flourishing.

I’ve been to several of these Trinity Forum events, and they have all been challenging and encouraging. Your $10 registration fee covers Mako's talk as well as a pre-talk reception that will feature both outstanding hors d'oeuvres and sparkling conversation.

Click here to register for the event.

This video gives a good sense of what Mako is up to:

The River Fox Chapter 4: Nomad Slaves

[Fantasy adventure and slapstick cartoon humor. Martin runs from dragons and bandits, while Marco tries to break out of a desert camp. The River Fox, volume two of The Dragon Lord Saga is now premiering one episode a week at Webtoons (also check out volume one, Martin & Marco).] chapterfour

Field Of Failure

Producer Gabe Scott and I are honing in on the final four songs on Far Side Of The Sea. I hinted at this in earlier posts, but now, neck-deep into the recording, I am more aware than ever just how vast a musical departure this album is for me. Production-wise, it is a sharp left turn. The strange thing is that the change no longer intimidates me. Gabe and I have worked very hard on this material, not only to avoid complacency and familiarity, but to be uncomfortably stretched. At Gabe's request, I committed from day one to, musically, take the road less-traveled. I am glad to have been a part of creating something so far outside my comfort zone. I habitually present myself as an Eeyore, a gray spectre haunting an otherwise light, pastoral scene. Admittedly, this is how I have introduced the song, "Field Of Failure": "Hello everybody, I'm a failure at everything I do, I can't get anything right...you know, like Charlie Brown" [re-insert head into sand]. It occurred to me only recently that my introduction falls short of telling the crucial truth: on my own, in my striving to please and succeed, it is true that I am absolutely not enough. But in the shadowed refuge of God's wings, and only there, despite my helplessness and failure, am I enough for the very simple reason that He delights in me. This is a sneak peek at an early mix of the album version of "Field Of Failure," a song I played for the very first time live at Hutchmoot 2014. [Click through to listen.]

Hutchmoot 2016: SOLD OUT

Registration for Hutchmoot 2016 begins tonight at 8pm CST. The cost of registration is $295 per person. Meals are included, lodging is not. Visit Hutchmoot.com for more information. Should tickets sell out, the registration system will begin an automated wait list, which will notify you once a spot is available.

Charlie and the Man in the Mask

(The following story took place a couple of years ago, roughly three months after having open heart surgery.) On my first day of cardiac rehab, I rode the elevator up with a man who was wearing a surgical mask. He was a complete enigma. He looked like a boy dressed in his father’s clothes. His shirt hung loose on his emaciated frame. He wore a baseball cap two sizes too big for his head. It looked to be carefully balanced, as though one quick move would shake it off. He looked like a young teenage boy, except that peeking out from under his surgical mask was a full beard. I never heard him speak. He moved very slowly. There was a woman with him—maybe his wife, maybe his mother—who led him around by the arm so he wouldn’t fall. I didn’t need to know his story to know that whatever had happened to him, he had become a shell of his former self. He spent four minutes on a treadmill set to its lowest speed, and then he went home. I saw him two days later. He followed the same routine—four minutes, then home. I only saw him one other time after that.

Teaser: The Wingfeather Saga (Animated Series)

The teaser at the end of the Wingfeather Saga Kickstarter video is the moment when it all becomes real. And not just real, but freaking awesome! The moment when you realize that not only is this thing going to happen, but it could happen in a big, epic, emotional, grand slam, home run, melt-your-face-off kind of way. Seriously, folks, here's the Kickstarter link. Share it. The goal is just the beginning.

The Wingfeather Saga Teaser

Did you watch to the end? So many people have told us how excited the last part of the Kickstarter video made them, so we wanted to share that with you.We dare you not to get goosebumps when Skye Peterson starts singing.

Posted by The Wingfeather Saga on Friday, March 4, 2016

Review: Waiting Songs by Rain for Roots

As a parent, I’m always looking for songs which will speak words of life and hope over my children and my home. But, here’s the rub: I’m kind of---okay, totally---a highly discerning arbiter of music (the word “snob” is so tasteless). So when the music of Nashville collective Rain for Roots crossed my path several years ago, I wanted to do the proverbial dance of joy at finding such lovely, talented allies in parenting from a place of godly imagination. Needless to say, their albums have been in constant rotation: at home, in the car, even at my wife’s kindergarten orientation this year where she had a Rain for Roots album on repeat the whole evening. Yeah, we love these gals. And why not? Their gentle folk melodies have filled our house with a sweet, sweet fragrance of beauty and goodness.

The River Fox Chapter 3: The Caravan

[Fantasy adventure and slapstick cartoon humor. Martin runs from dragons and bandits, while Marco tries to break out of a desert camp. The River Fox, volume two of The Dragon Lord Saga is now premiering one episode a week at Webtoons (also check out volume one, Martin & Marco).] chapterthree Well, here we are in the desert --- which, if you’ll consult your map, is due south of Old Bill’s forest. If The River Fox looks different than Martin and Marco, it’s at least partly because volume two is drawn digitally. Martin and Marco was pencilled, inked, and scanned, then tweaked and processed digitally before being printed. The new process is much more efficient! Here are the tools I’m using these days: Manga Studio 4 - The best software to replicate that feel of pen on paper. Yiynova MSP19u Tablet Monitor - A screen I can draw on. Almost as good as a Cintiq, and a heck of a lot cheaper! Adobe Creative Cloud - Because EVERYTHING I do winds up in Photoshop before I’m though. Blambot - FREE comic fonts. If you have any favorite drawing materials, I'd love to hear about them in the comments section below! [Click here to read The River Fox at Webtoons.]

The Wingfeather Saga: The Animated Series

Today is the day. After months of meetings, prayers, conversations, emails, and phone calls we're officially launching the Kickstarter campaign to bring the Wingfeather Saga to the screen. Let me repeat myself: we're going to make a serious run at animating---literally, "bringing to life"---all four books, the entirety of Janner, Kal, and Leeli's story. What? YES. I'll explain more, but if you're like me and sometimes you don't have time to read a tome of an email, then here's the link. You can watch the video, read all about our plan, and sign up at one of the reward levels to 1) support the project and 2) get some cool stuff. Here's the quick rundown of how I ended up at this juncture, in case you're worried that I've lost my mind.

A Letter to Ben

Ben, I woke up around four o'clock this morning to sit with my father in his jon boat on the Kentucky River. The whole world was dark except for a new moon that lay on the surface of the water like a child's glass of milk. Still waters feel fragile, so I held my breath, afraid that I would splosh light over the cup edges into the clean, black deep. A water strider cut straight through the moon’s reflection, dividing it into the rungs of a staircase. I didn’t see angels ascend and descend those steps, but a barred owl flapped her strong wings twice slowly over the water while the heron and the egret coughed and jabbered through their morning prayers. A snapping turtle's nose rose and she stared at me with cold, black eyes, as if she were suspecting me of a great wrong, then she sank back down below. A carp jumped, leaving a beaded curtain of the river behind her. With her leap, I felt like she had grabbed my soul by its dorsal fin and given it a shake. She frolicked like David in his ephod, dancing before the Lord with all his might. The book of Genesis says that God once hovered over the surface of the deep, and when I am on the river, I can imagine that more easily.